A Slender Cord

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The builder who first bridged Niagara’s gorge,
Before he swung his cable, shore to shore,   
Sent out across the gulf his venturing kite   
Bearing a slender cord for unseen hands   
To grasp upon the further cliff and draw
A greater cord, and then a greater yet;   
Till at the last across the chasm swung   
The cable then the mighty bridge in air!
So we may send our little timid thought   
Across the void, out to God’s reaching hands—
Send out our love and faith to thread the deep—
Thought after thought until the little cord
Has greatened to a chain no chance can break,
And we are anchored to the Infinite!
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We dangle from a slender thread,
twisting and turning, swinging to and fro
with the breezes.
This silken line connects us in ways we barely see
to hold on to us when buffeted
by storms and rain and drought.

We are anchored fast to eternity, and never let go.

From here to infinity.

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Nor Ever Contain the Whole

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Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
~from the hymn “The Love of God”
by Frederick Lehman, derived from Jew­ish poem Had­da­mut,
writ­ten in Ara­ma­ic in 1050 by Meir Ben Isaac Ne­hor­ai

 

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We try to wrap our arms and minds around that which is so immense, so infinite, so eternal, so mysterious, so unimaginable — in the hope we can hold it in our consciousness, even if momentarily.

We can try with metaphor and parable and poetry and our finite imagination.

Yet God’s love permeates everything from the empty space between tiny atomic particles to the clinging/flinging forces of the galaxies in the vast universe.  It is impossible to fathom or describe.

We may try but we can’t — and simply be the image bearers we were created to be.

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Infinity in the Palm of My Hand

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To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the Palm of your Hand,
and Eternity in an Hour.

When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light 
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night 
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day

~William Blake from “Auguries of Innocence”

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To fall head long into the depths
of a dandelion puff ball,
captured in its intricacy,
a seeded symmetry
lined with delicate dewdrop drizzle.

To know the cosmos is contained
within the commonplace,
the God of Light and Living Water
no further away
than my back yard
and the palm of my hand.

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God Among Us: Incomprehensibly Made Man

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He had to be made like his brothers in every way …
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted,
he is able to help those who are being tempted …
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but we have one who has been tempted in every way,
just as we are—yet was without sin.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15-16

 

The Word had become flesh: a real human baby. He had not ceased to be God; He was no less God then than before; but He had begun to be man. He was not now God minus some elements of His deity, but God plus all that He had made His own by taking manhood to Himself. He who made man was now learning what it felt like to be man.

The mystery of the Incarnation is unfathomable. We cannot explain it; we can only formulate it. Perhaps it has never been formulated better than in the words of the Athanasian Creed. “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man … perfect God, and perfect man … who although He be God and man: yet He is not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh: but by taking of the manhood into God.”

Our minds cannot get beyond this. What we see in the manger is, in Charles Wesley’s words,

Our God contracted to a span;
Incomprehensibly made man.

Incomprehensibly. We shall be wise to remember this, to shun speculation and contentedly to adore.
~J.L. Packer from Knowing God

 

Incomprehensible– yet we are given Words to understand in faith what took place.
Inconceivable– yet He was conceived and delivered, taking manhood to Himself.
Incarnate–yet every bit as much flesh as I am, knowing the struggle of my weakness.
Infinite– yet finite enough to be held in His mother’s arms.
Incredible–yet I believe.
~EPG

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Let earth and Heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine
The incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made Man.

He laid His glory by,
He wrapped Him in our clay;
Unmarked by human eye,
The latent Godhead lay;
Infant of days He here became,
And bore the mild Immanuel’s Name.

See in that Infant’s face
The depths of deity,
And labor while ye gaze
To sound the mystery
In vain; ye angels gaze no more,
But fall, and silently adore.

Unsearchable the love
That hath the Savior brought;
The grace is far above
Of men or angels’ thought:
Suffice for us that God, we know,
Our God, is manifest below.

He deigns in flesh t’appear,
Widest extremes to join;
To bring our vileness near,
And make us all divine:
And we the life of God shall know,
For God is manifest below.

Made perfect first in love,
And sanctified by grace,
We shall from earth remove,
And see His glorious face:
His love shall then be fully showed,
And man shall all be lost in God.

 

1. Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becomes poor.

2. Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenwards by thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest man.

3. Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.
~Frank Houghton

Congeries of Colored Things

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It is a fault of infinity to be too small to find.
It is a fault of eternity to be crowded out by time.
Before our eyes we see an unbroken sheath of colors.
We walk amid a congeries of colored things that part before our steps
to reveal more colored things.
Above us hurtle more things, which fill the universe.
There is no crack.
Where, then, is the gap through which eternity streams?

It is our lives we love, our times, our generation, our pursuits.
And are we called to forsake these vivid and palpable goods
for an idea of which we experience not one trace?
Am I to believe eternity outranks my child’s finger?

Annie Dillard from Teaching a Stone to Talk

If we look closely enough
we see farthest
with eyes closed
to the distraction of life’s colored things,
real and imagined.

Eternity — beyond what we can know
Infinity — beyond what we can conjure

We reach for it
because we are told
it is within our grasp.

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The Bounds of the Infinite

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God is not infinite;
He is the synthesis
of infinity and boundary.

~Coventry Patmore

He chose the boundaries of the finite;
to be helpless as a baby,
to love flawed parents,
to be dusty and tired and tempted,
to weep,
to be hurt, bleeding, bound by nails,
dead and buried as man,
to await rising as God.

Living and dying within such boundaries as ours
show us His infinite Truth:
He knows what it means
to be finite,
like us.

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Heaven in a Wild Flower

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To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the Palm of your Hand,
and Eternity in an Hour.

When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light 
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night 
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day

~William Blake from “Auguries of Innocence”

To fall head long into the depths
of a dandelion puff ball,
captured in its intricacy,
a seeded symmetry
lined with delicate dewdrop drizzle.

To know the cosmos is contained
within the commonplace,
the God of Light and Living Water
no further away
than my back yard.
~EPG

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